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Gait Lab & Orthopaedics

Walker in Gait Lab

The gait lab and orthopaedics research group aims to find the best treatments to help children with walking disabilities. A large focus of the research concerns children with cerebral palsy, an illness related to a brain injury that occurred before or shortly after birth which affects the neuromuscular system. The prevalence of cerebral palsy is two per 1,000 live births.

The group has two broad areas of research.

The first evaluates the effect of orthopaedics treatment on gait. In 2009, the group was the first to conduct a randomised control trial about Single Event Multi Level Surgery (SEMLS). We also conducted the first randomised control trial to determine the best frequency to administer botulinum toxin for the treatment of spasticity. Recent projects also included the effect of ankle foot orthoses on gait.

The second area of research develops models of the human body to support the use of gait analysis. From 2005 to 2010, our group led the Gait Centre of Research Excellence. Recently, we developed a 3-dimensional freehand ultrasound system to locate the position of the femoral head and to determine torsion in the femur. The data helps the researchers build better musculoskeletal models of the lower limb in order to understand muscle and joint forces during walking. 

Group Leaders: 
Group Members: 
Dr Kate Willoughby
Research Associate
Assoc. Prof. Leo Donnan
Research Associate
Dr Jitendra Balakumar
Research associate
Mrs Prue Weigall
Research Associate
Mrs Mela Harambasic
Research Associate
Assoc. Prof. Bev Eldridge
Honorary fellow manager
Dr Jennifer Mcginley
Off-campus Research Associate
Prof. Richard Baker
Off-campus Honorary Fellow

A randomised clinical trial to determine the best method to treat hip displacement in children with cerebral palsy
This study aims to discover if muscle surgery or bone surgery is more successful for improving hip displacement in children with cerebral palsy. Hip displacement refers to the ‘ball’ of the hip moving out of the ‘socket’ and is common in children with cerebral palsy. Changes in shape of the ball and socket can lead to joint degeneration, loss of function and pain. The study will compare the effects of surgery to lengthen tight hip muscles with bony reconstructive surgery. 

A randomised clinical trial to determine the optimum frequency of Botox injections in children with cerebral palsy

Understanding the effects of torsional deformities of the lower limb in typically developed children and cerebral palsy patients.
Femoral and tibial torsional deformities have a major impact on children’s physical functioning and quality of life. The consequences of these deformities differ between patient groups, and effects on muscle function and joints loading are not well known. Musculoskeletal modelling provides the only way to better understand the pathology and improve clinical decision making and patient care. This project will implement the world’s first clinical platform for patient-specific musculoskeletal modelling paired with gait analysis.

Can we predict who will benefit from ankle foot orthoses?
This project aims to describe the effect of ankle foot orthoses (AFOs) on children with walking disabilities. Researchers want to use data collected in the gait lab from the last 10 years to determine the clinical profile of the patients who benefit from AFOs and those who do not.